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Montana students expand leadership skills at 25th annual LEAD conference

Posted at 9:00 AM, Oct 31, 2018
and last updated 2018-10-31 11:17:04-04

HELENA – Students across the Big Sky state were in Helena on Tuesday for Jobs for Montana’s Graduates (JMG) 25th annual LEAD Conference.

Some 250 students from 34 schools took part in the conference, which helps students meet with business leaders and attend workshops to expand their leadership skills.

JMG works to provide students with the opportunity to gain important skills needed for career readiness such as critical thinking and decision-making skills.

Erica Swanson, state director of Jobs for Montana’s Graduates, said she’s thrilled to see so many schools, including four middle schools, attend this year’s conference.

“The LEAD conference continues to teach our future high school graduates the leadership and career readiness skills they need to be successful in their next step—whether it’s continuing their education or entering the workforce,” said Swanson.

Governor Steve Bullock recognized the students at the event for their commitment to academic excellence and leadership development.

“Jobs for Montana’s Graduates helps ensure every Montana student, no matter their background, strengths, or learning styles, know that their success matters and that high school graduation is within their reach,” Gov. Bullock said.

“I am humbled to spend time with the students who have made this commitment in their education and in their futures,” he added.

Gov. Bullock also praised the students’ commitment to bettering their futures.

“None of us chose where we were born, most of us didn’t choose the obstacles that get in the way of our successes. But you do have the power to choose your own path.,” he told the students.

“You have the power to rise above any of the potential obstacles in your path and say ‘I choose to take the path at the crossroads that make me a success and not a statistic’,” Gov. Bullock added.

Gov. Bullock and Helena Mayor Wilmot Collins also helped announce four students attending the conference to represent Montana at the National Student Leadership Academy in Washington, D.C. in November.

This year’s National Student Leadership Delegates are Jimmy McAlister of Paris Gibson Education Center, Alexandra Pehlke of Glasgow High School, Raferdy Samson of Hot Springs High School and Madison Huckfeldt of Granite High School.

Madison Huckfeldt said she’s grateful for the opportunity to represent Montana and for everything she’s learned in JMG.

“I’ve enjoyed it quite a bit,” said Huckfeldt, “They gave us amazing learning skills to use and I think it will benefit each and every one of us as we further our education and everyday lives.”

JMG is funded by the Montana Department of Labor & Industry to support students in connecting with their communities by providing them with leadership development, social and civic responsibility, and career awareness.

-John Riley reporting for MTN News